Debate:Extraordinary Evidence

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The Legendary Claim[edit]

Hello, my internet brethren. I come to you this day regarding a certain claim. The claim that a rational atheist would convert on the spot were they to come across proof of the existence of everyone's favorite improbable entities.

When I hear a rational atheist make that claim, I can't help but want to say "I'm skeptical".
*Dives for cover from a hail of tomatoes* "Oh come on! It wasn't that bad."

But in all seriousness, what kind of evidence could a scientifically minded person find that they would interpret as a god? Now, I'm not referring to the tired straw man where leprechauns are jumping up and down right in front of a rational atheist and the atheist stubbornly refuses to acknowledge them. I mean that, upon discovering some "extraordinary evidence", why would an atheist scientist equate the data they were observing with a God they don't believe in instead of devising a less absurd-sounding explanation?

If anyone has any ideas as to what this evidence would be, please, feel free to post it under one of the corresponding categories. - Gameboy (talk) 06:53, 20 March 2011 (UTC)


Serious Business[edit]

I think one issue is "First define your God". There are a large number of proposed deities with widely differing agendas and attributes.

The proposed deist God really doesn't do very much. Doesn't really interact with the universe any way so getting evidence for his existence is tough.

Other people say God is love or is the universe or is everything. Again, evidence would be tough to come by.

There are vast number of "dead gods" - gods that nobody believes in any more.

Then there's that bastard in the Old Testament who many Christians seem to want to forget and others want to embrace.

So I suppose the question is about "What would make you believe in one specific version of God to the exclusion of all others?"

But that takes me to "How much belief?". Because neither "belief" nor "evidence" is black and white. There is already some evidence for the existence of, for example, the Christian god. Alleged miracles, claimed personal contact from true believers etc. It's just not very good or convincing evidence so my belief level is not raised.

So any new new evidence would need

  • to be good evidence that would significantly raise my belief level in a particular god

And - most importantly -

  • the best way to interpret that evidence would have to be in favour of that particular god. For example the conclusion "It must be Zeus or Ra" would need to be more persuasive than the conclusion "aliens playing tricks".

To be honest, it's difficult to imagine what that evidence could be.--BobSpring is sprung! 12:13, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

That's the problem I keep coming up against. I've gone over it in my head countless times, but I simply can't conceive of any evidence that could be best explained as 'god'. Perhaps in the future, when our understanding of the universe has advanced there would be something, but based on how science works... I doubt it. - Gameboy (talk) 19:24, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
I think I know the sort of thing you're getting at in asking this. A few years back, God and Jesus came to me in a dream and told me to start believing. What was my response? "Meh, it's a dream". Yet believers would be happy to suggest that this is adequate evidence. So what would convince me? It'd be some sort of evidence (like the dream) where there is no other plausible option than to accept divine influence. More specifically, it would be where the only naturalistic explanation for a miracle is even less plausible than the miracle itself. Take the parting of the red sea and the "explanation" that it was caused by specific winds altering the tides and clearing a path that would last for only a short time. That is remarkably far-fetched and based on very iffy fluid dynamics simulations. In short, the only natural explanation is more ridiculous than the parting. Of course, we have no evidence that there were even Hebrew slaves in Egypt ever, yet alone a mystical crossing of the red sea. Scarlet A.pngmoral 19:56, 20 March 2011 (UTC)


If I'd seen Lazarus raised from the dead I'd be... well, I'd start to be really interested in the Joshua bar Joseph fellow. Jack Hughes (talk) 19:43, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Yes, but how would you know it was God (rather than somebody claiming to be god) what dun it, and how would you know which god dun it?--BobSpring is sprung! 19:49, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
That would be a pickle. But consider this based on your point: what is the difference between someone pretending to be God with Godlike powers, who stands up and says "FOR I AM THE LORD!" via a burning bush, raises people from the dead and does all that fancy omnipotent crap and God? Scarlet A.pngmoral 20:03, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
It would be the same as the difference between an invisible, intangible, non-interventionist God who refuses to provide any evidence of its existence and no God. Scarlet A.pngmoral 20:04, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
Well you could never know, could you? That's the point. No matter how much a super-powerful being tried to persuade he was Vishnu, you could never really be sure that it wasn't Odin pulling your leg.--BobSpring is sprung! 22:03, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
Or that it wasn't some non-divine being with sufficiently advanced technology. Or perhaps a non-divine being that just exists on a level we can't even comprehend. Granted, all this rests on the assumption that there isn't some 'other way of knowing', but the 'extraordinary evidence' thing is from a rationalist perspective. - Gameboy (talk) 23:00, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, Clark's Third Law is very important here - any we can't tell the difference between technology and magic. The Q are "omnipotent," but they're not "gods." Because of this, I don't think there could be any proof of a god as the Abrahamic religions define her. Blue (pester) 23:08, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
While I'm not an expert, based on my understanding of them, the same could be said of the gods of Buddhism, Hinduism, Shenjiao, and Shinto. Anyone who has a more in-depth knowledge of them is free to correct me of course. - Gameboy (talk) 23:39, 20 March 2011 (UTC)